Bassically is one of many projects from production mastermind Raz Olsher, the head honcho behind Fossil Sounds. This multi0faceted artist has worked with the likes of Gilles Peterson, Lemar and M.J. Cole, and recently writes as Raz & Alfa – an exciting new musical duo making their mark on the UK Afrobeat scene.
We caught up with Bassically to hear about his new LP ‘Audio Diaries’ on his Fossil Sounds imprint and producing it whilst quarantined in Thailand, label talk, and upcoming projects.
‘Audio Diaries’, your new LP, was written while you were in quarantine in Thailand in April. What was the trigger to set yourself the challenge of writing a track for each day of the month?
I wanted to try and make something out of this time that was given to me. It was a period of many unknowns and uncertainty and I was experiencing a whole world of feelings; excitement, rebellion as well as fear of an apocalypse. I decided to direct these emotions into creativity; My music is my safe place and how I express myself best. So, I committed to writing a track a day and sharing it with the world online each evening. As well and staying busy and keeping my sanity, this was my way to document the shambolic state of the world.
You’ve said the idea of facing a blank canvas every day was exciting – was that excitement ever difficult to maintain and did you hit any brick walls throughout?
Absolutely. Every day I tried to push myself and make a better piece of music. My daily routine helped me sharpen my technical craft but It was not without challenge. At times I had a hard time coming up with new ideas and the clock was ticking away. Sometimes I was just tired and wanted a day off. Looking back, around day 12 or 13 was the hardest. I wanted the 30 tracks to flow together and to have a dynamic musical narrative. The ups and downs of the creative process are part of that story.
You’re well known as the founder of Fossil Studios in East-London – was approaching an LP without a full studio’s tools at your disposal challenging or liberating?
It was very different. I had to completely reinvent the way I work. I welcomed the change and the challenge. As creatures of habit, we become so accustomed to one way of working that it can be challenging to change. Stripping everything back has forced me to think differently, and I found it quite refreshing and inspiring to be out of the studio with a basic setup.
I have always been a believer in keeping things simple, and the ‘less is more’ mantra for staying creative and efficient. That situation helped me to practice that principle without the distractions of other equipment in my studio. With the Corona Chronicles, I have set myself limitations and rules for every track I do to come up with an original focused sound. One example might be having a pool of drum samples that I always pick from so that I don’t lose lots of time in sound selection. Without access to my sample library, I turned to online to Youtube.
How did you approach the process of programming the LP and whittling down the tracklist from 30 to 13?
First, I culled the 30 down to my favourite 20 which I sent this to friends, colleagues and audiophiles and asked them to choose their 10 favourites. I then added 3 more tracks that I personally thought are important to make it a cohesive piece of work and complete my vision as an eclectic LP. The track list stayed the same as its original chronological date of creation. Some tracks were clearly more popular and so I put these out first as singles.
Now it’s released, are there any omissions you regret?
Not really. There are some strong tracks left out but I wanted to focus the album and keep the quality as high as possible. No fillers. The journey can be told via these 13 tracks. I have, however, played some of these unreleased tunes in my live sets here in Thailand. The original 30 days Corona Chronicles playlist is still available online on Soundcloud if anyone is interested to go down that rabbit hole.
The tone of the LP is generally light and optimistic – was that a conscious decision?
That was not a conscious decision. I think it is a journey and a reflection of my heart and soul at that time. It was a full spectrum ride of emotions that manifested in different aesthetics. Some tracks are more ethereal and others are even darker. At the same time writing a light and optimistic piece of music could be my way of challenging exactly the opposite feelings. I would like to think there is a little bit of everything in there and it is interesting for me to see how different people connect to different tracks.
Is there anything about this project that will change how you approach your next LP?
I do like this way of creating music and I have taken many lessons from that experience. Travelling into new territories and writing music in isolation is a wonderful formula. Having said that, the content will most certainly be different as I will have different things to express and different tools to use as well as new people and experiences as inspiration.
What is next?
I’m still in Thailand sharpening my tool kit learning to play the piano. I’ve been making a few remixes and edits. I’m also working on new music for Raz & Afla. We are doing the remote collab thing; Thailand – London. It’s a different kind of creative process for us but at the end of the day it all comes down to the music that comes out at the end.
Bassically ‘Audio Diaries’ on Fossil Sounds is out now.